How did the 72nd alternate get into this week’s Korn Ferry Tour event?

Andre Metzger tees off.

Andre Metzger tees off during an event in August 2021 in Omaha, Neb.

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A new Korn Ferry Tour season means a host of new players seeking a host of new opportunities to live out their dreams.

And one has already taken advantage of one of the unlikeliest opportunities.

Andre Metzger, a 40-year-old longtime mini tour pro, is playing this week’s Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, having got into the field when Wesley Bryan withdrew before the first round.

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But that doesn’t begin to tell the story of his week because Metzger wasn’t the first, second, or even the 10th alternate for the Korn Ferry Tour season opener.

He was No. 72 on the alternate list.

This prompts two questions: How do 71 players turn down an opening to play in an event? And why was Metzger so far down on the alternate list to begin with?

We’ll start with the second.

According to Ryan French, aka Monday Q Info on Twitter, Metzger teed up at Korn Ferry Q-School in November but came down with a bout of food poisoning and tied for 138th. He’s still a Korn Ferry Tour member, but so far down in the priority rankings, it’s unlikely for him to play any events, sans sponsor exemptions or Monday qualifying.

Then last month, as Metzger explained after his opening round Sunday, he was playing golf with a man his sponsor set him up to meet in December. He was telling his host how he didn’t usually fly down to the Bahamas for the first two Korn Ferry events, even if he was in the top 10 of the alternate list.

The travel expenses make it pretty rare for guys not already in the field to head down, he said, but then he heard of a guy in the 60s on the alternate list making it into the field one year.

“It was crazy to me. I would have gotten in if I had gone,” Metzger said. “I’m telling this guy the story and he just retired. He was like ‘Well, I want to go buy a sailboat, so why don’t we just all go to The Bahamas?'”

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Thinking it wasn’t a totally serious offer, Metzger agreed. And then he heard from the man, whom he didn’t name, again.

“I wasn’t even in communication with him until I all the sudden saw him again,” he said. “I’m telling my wife, ‘This guy is saying that we’re going to The Bahamas and I don’t know, but it sounds pretty for real.’ He texts me that night and asked if my wife and kids wanted to go. I said they probably would, and he told me to bring them along and he would pay for everybody.”

The generous host went as far as to compensate Metzger’s wife for time she’d miss at work and allow her to stay in the Bahamas the whole trip.

Metzger saw it as a great chance to earn a Korn Ferry start. Even if he didn’t, it would be at worst a free vacation.

But by Sunday — the first round of this week’s tournament — it was looking more and more like that worst-case scenario.

“Honestly, I was just planning to be on vacation,” Metzger said. “I didn’t think in any sense that this would work, but at the same time, I’ve seen it work before. It blew my mind the first time.”

But then 11:48 a.m. rolled around and Wesley Bryan withdrew just two minutes before his 11:50 a.m. tee time. A Korn Ferry Tour spokesperson confirmed that not only was Metzger the highest-ranked alternate on site, but he was the only alternate on site.

“One of my other buddies knew Wesley Bryan and him pulling out got me in,” he said. “[Bryan] didn’t even have to pull out, which was very nice. So, I watched him walk towards the tee and I thought ‘Okay it’s done, let’s go have some fun,’ and I was just hanging out. Then we were told I had two minutes to get on the tee. I ran over there.”

Bryan and his brother George’s Twitter account, Bryan Bros Golf, later tweeted that the three-time Korn Ferry Tour winner and 2017 RBC Heritage champion was likely to have a spot in next week’s American Express on the PGA Tour.

That passed the opportunity to Metzger, who was about as cold as cold could be as he hustled up to the 10th tee.

“I have never seen this course; I had no clue. I didn’t have time to look at my yardage book,” Metzger said. “Jared [Wolfe] goes first and hit some kind of iron so I just hit an iron, too. I had no clue. I didn’t know where my ball was going, and I didn’t even know where the ball was supposed to go.”

Metzger actually birdied his 2nd hole but made two doubles on the way to a five-over 77. He finished the tournament with 76 on Monday to miss the cut.

It could have been a huge break for Metzger as making the cut would have made him eligible for the first reshuffle after the KFT’s fourth event. If he finished well, it could have meant well over a dozen starts for the rest of the year.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.

 

 

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